Anger continues to mount over the suicide of transgender American teenager Leelah Alcorn as her family moves her funeral after reportedly receiving threats.
The 17-year-old, born Joshua Ryan Alcorn, is believed to have walked into the path of a truck on a highway in the early morning of Sunday, 28 December.
She had earlier posted a pre-scheduled note (see below) on her Tumblr account, which heartbreakingly explained her reasons for committing suicide and accusing her religious parents of isolating her and forcing her to undergo Christian-based therapy.
“Please don’t be sad, it’s for the better. The life I would’ve lived isn’t worth living in … because I’m transgender,” Leelah wrote.
“My death needs to mean something. My death needs to be counted in the number of transgender people who commit suicide this year,” she said.
Insisting that, “There’s no winning. There’s no way out,” she signed the note by crossing out “Josh,” and replacing it with “Leelah”.
In another earlier post on Reddit, she wrote that her parents “would say things like ‘You’ll never be a real girl’ or ‘What’re you going to do, fuck boys?’ or ‘God’s going to send you straight to hell.'”
Her plight and tragic death unleashed a wave of outrage against Leelah’s parents and a transphobic society at large.
US gay activist and author Dan Savage called for the parents’ prosecution and tweeted: “#LeelahAlcorn’s parents threw her in front of that truck. They should be ashamed—but 1st they need to be shamed. Charges should be brought.”
Even after her death, Alcorn’s mother has refused to acknowledge Leelah as a girl and continued to refer to her as a boy.
In an interview with CNN, Carla Alcorn said, “We don’t support that, religiously,” adding, “But we told him that we loved him unconditionally. We loved him no matter what. I loved my son. People need to know that I loved him. He was a good kid, a good boy.”
Leelah’s father, Doug, told news station WCPO in an e-mail: “We love our son, Joshua, very much and are devastated by his death. We have no desire to enter into a political storm or debate with people who did not know him. We wish to grieve in private. We harbor no ill will towards anyone.”
The teen’s Tumblr account, documenting her experiences and including her suicide note, appears to have now been deleted.
A petition, signed by more than 76,000 people, was launched urging her parents to place her chosen female name on her tombstone.
NBC News reported that, according the family minister at Northeast Church of Christ in Cincinnati, Leelah’s funeral on Friday was moved to a private location because “the times and dates had been publicised, and the family’s received threats.”
A number of candlelight vigils have been organised this weekend to remember and honour Leelah.
Below is Leelah Alcorn’s moving suicide note in full.
If you are reading this, it means that I have committed suicide and obviously failed to delete this post from my queue.
Please don’t be sad, it’s for the better. The life I would’ve lived isn’t worth living in … because I’m transgender. I could go into detail explaining why I feel that way, but this note is probably going to be lengthy enough as it is. To put it simply, I feel like a girl trapped in a boy’s body, and I’ve felt that way ever since I was 4. I never knew there was a word for that feeling, nor was it possible for a boy to become a girl, so I never told anyone and I just continued to do traditionally “boyish” things to try to fit in.
When I was 14, I learned what transgender meant and cried of happiness. After 10 years of confusion I finally understood who I was. I immediately told my mom, and she reacted extremely negatively, telling me that it was a phase, that I would never truly be a girl, that God doesn’t make mistakes, that I am wrong. If you are reading this, parents, please don’t tell this to your kids. Even if you are Christian or are against transgender people don’t ever say that to someone, especially your kid. That won’t do anything but make them hate them self. That’s exactly what it did to me.
My mom started taking me to a therapist, but would only take me to Christian therapists, (who were all very biased) so I never actually got the therapy I needed to cure me of my depression. I only got more Christians telling me that I was selfish and wrong and that I should look to God for help.
When I was 16 I realized that my parents would never come around, and that I would have to wait until I was 18 to start any sort of transitioning treatment, which absolutely broke my heart. The longer you wait, the harder it is to transition. I felt hopeless, that I was just going to look like a man in drag for the rest of my life. On my 16th birthday, when I didn’t receive consent from my parents to start transitioning, I cried myself to sleep.
I formed a sort of a “fuck you” attitude towards my parents and came out as gay at school, thinking that maybe if I eased into coming out as trans it would be less of a shock. Although the reaction from my friends was positive, my parents were pissed. They felt like I was attacking their image, and that I was an embarrassment to them. They wanted me to be their perfect little straight Christian boy, and that’s obviously not what I wanted.
So they took me out of public school, took away my laptop and phone, and forbid me of getting on any sort of social media, completely isolating me from my friends. This was probably the part of my life when I was the most depressed, and I’m surprised I didn’t kill myself. I was completely alone for 5 months. No friends, no support, no love. Just my parent’s disappointment and the cruelty of loneliness.
At the end of the school year, my parents finally came around and gave me my phone and let me back on social media. I was excited, I finally had my friends back. They were extremely excited to see me and talk to me, but only at first. Eventually they realized they didn’t actually give a shit about me, and I felt even lonelier than I did before. The only friends I thought I had only liked me because they saw me five times a week.
After a summer of having almost no friends plus the weight of having to think about college, save money for moving out, keep my grades up, go to church each week and feel like shit because everyone there is against everything I live for, I have decided I’ve had enough. I’m never going to transition successfully, even when I move out. I’m never going to be happy with the way I look or sound. I’m never going to have enough friends to satisfy me. I’m never going to have enough love to satisfy me. I’m never going to find a man who loves me. I’m never going to be happy. Either I live the rest of my life as a lonely man who wishes he were a woman or I live my life as a lonelier woman who hates herself. There’s no winning. There’s no way out. I’m sad enough already, I don’t need my life to get any worse. People say “it gets better” but that isn’t true in my case. It gets worse. Each day I get worse.
That’s the gist of it, that’s why I feel like killing myself. Sorry if that’s not a good enough reason for you, it’s good enough for me. As for my will, I want 100% of the things that I legally own to be sold and the money (plus my money in the bank) to be given to trans civil rights movements and support groups, I don’t give a shit which one. The only way I will rest in peace is if one day transgender people aren’t treated the way I was, they’re treated like humans, with valid feelings and human rights. Gender needs to be taught about in schools, the earlier the better. My death needs to mean something. My death needs to be counted in the number of transgender people who commit suicide this year. I want someone to look at that number and say “that’s fucked up” and fix it. Fix society.